Jewish tradition is full of festivals and holidays. Each year, we celebrate them in so many wonderful ways.
High Holy Days
The High Holy Days are an incredibly important and beautiful part of the Jewish year. A time of personal and communal introspection and prayer, we come together as a community to observe these most holy of days.
S'lichot is a late-night service usually held the Saturday before Rosh HaShanah. It is a beautiful, moving service usually preceded by dinner and study. It is the first time that we sing the penitential prayers of the High Holy Day season, beginning the process of soul-searching and soul-cleansing that make the High Holy Days so powerful and personal.
Rosh HaShanah is the Jewish new year, celebrated with prayers and the sounding of the shofar. Congregational and family services are held on the eve of Rosh HaShanah, on the morning and afternoon of the first day, and on the morning of the second day. On the first day of Rosh HaShanah, services are followed by an afternoon congregational reception, followed by a walk down to the Glencoe Beach to engage in the ritual of Tashlich, symbolically casting our sins into the water. Second Day services are followed by a light lunch.
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is a day marked by solemn prayer and fasting. The Kol Nidre prayer is recited on the eve of Yom Kippur at our congregational service, and congregational and family services are held on the morning and afternoon of the day of Yom Kippur. The day comes to an end with Yizkor and Concluding Services, followed by a Congregational Break-the-Fast light meal.
Sukkot is the Festival of Booths, when we build a temporary hut to remind ourselves of the ones that our ancestors lived in when they were wandering in the wilderness. It is a seven-day long holiday, and we observe with various celebrations for congregants of all ages! Am Shalom builds a sukkah each year, and you are welcome to join us throughout the week! Festival morning services are held on the first day.
Simchat Torah is celebrated at the end of Sukkot. On that day, we read the ending of the cyclical Torah reading and begin again with the opening lines of the Torah. We celebrate this yearly milestone with a festive dinner and service on the eve of the holiday, joined by the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band. This evening is also when we celebrate the Consecration of our kindergarten and new students as they begin their religious education. A Festival and Yizkor service is held on the morning of the holiday.
While Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, is usually celebrated in the home, we also hold many celebrations in and around Am Shalom. We have a festive Chanukah Shabbat service, with the participation of our Ruach (Youth) and Koleinu (Adult) Choirs, and at that service we typically celebrate the consecration of our newest Hebrew School students. Check out our Am Shalom Chanukah Video Song Playlist and some pictures from Chanukah celebrations.
Purim is so much fun! This holiday based on the story told in the Book of Esther celebrates how Queen Esther saves her people from the king's evil advisor, Haman. We dress in costumes and eat three-cornered pastries called hamantaschen. Every year we hold a Purim Carnival with a fun re-telling of the Purim story and we often host adult events for this holiday as well! We had so much fun - watch this wonderful video of Purim 5775 and check out these great pictures!
The Festival of our Freedom, as Passover is known, celebrates the exodus from Egypt. Join us each year for our First Day services, when our clergy compete to see who can make the best Matzah Brei (fried matzah). We also host a Family Seder on the first night, suitable for families with young children. On the last day of Passover, Festival and Yizkor services are held.
Check out this video where we celebrated our freedom from slavery, if not from crumbs!
On Shavuot, we recall the moment that our people stood at Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. It's customary to study late into the night on Shavuot, so we usually follow our evening Festival Service with a late-night study session. On Shavuot morning, we hold Festival and Yizkor services. Check out these great Shavuot celebration pictures!
Shabbat is a wonderful antidote to the busy-ness of each week. Click here for more information about our Shabbat services.
Yizkor (Memorial) services are held four times a year:
The afternoon of Yom Kippur
The last day of Sukkot (morning)
The last day of Passover (morning)